VICTORIA, British Columbia, Canada (NNS) -- Sailors from USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) participated in Canada's International Fleet Review (IFR) June 9-12 in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada after accepting an invitation from the host country.
The aircraft carrier was one of 21 ships and more than 8,000 Sailors from six countries participating in the IFR, an event honoring the centennial anniversary of the Canadian Navy. Ronald Reagan Sailors enjoyed the opportunity to interact with their counterparts from Canada, France, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.
"They're pretty impressed [when I tell them we're on an aircraft carrier,]" said Electronics Technician 3rd Class Tabitha Reid as she traveled the city wearing a U.S. Navy dress blue uniform.
Victoria, a city of 330,000 and the capital of British Columbia, is the homeport for Canada's Pacific Fleet. Local Canadians said they were happy to see Ronald Reagan Sailors come to Victoria for their navy's birthday bash.
"I've seen a lot of the Sailors around," said Ken Schott, a Victoria resident. "One tipped me, so to me they're not bad. If they want to listen to the music and share some change then that's good."
The chance to interact with foreign navies and learn about their counterparts was an opportunity many Sailors of each navy said they will cherish. One New Zealand Sailor said he appreciated the Reagan Sailors who stood out in their dress blue uniforms.
"They're good, they're friendly," said James Nightingale, a New Zealand Navy sailor aboard HMNZS Te Kaha (F 77). "I see them going around taking photos [with us and other navies]. They're good to have fun with."
Ronald Reagan Sailors not only got to know the people in the town, but the town itself, through tours provided by the ship's Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) department. Yeoman 3rd Class Adrina Vasquez took a seaplane tour of Victoria and the surrounding area, which included the nearby Olympic Mountains and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
"It was only 30 minutes, but it was definitely worth it," said Vasquez. "It was cool to see all the gardens from the air."
On June 11, Ronald Reagan Sailors marched through downtown Victoria during the Naval Parade of Nations, where they received a rousing applause.
"I had no idea there were so many people out here who were so supportive of different navies," said Fire Controlman 3rd Class (SW) Lisa Smith, one of 30 Ronald Reagan Sailors who marched in the parade. "People screamed out, 'Go U.S.A., thank you and we love you.'"
The Pass in Review on June 12 gathered all the foreign ships to Royal Roads anchorage and was one of the final parts of the centennial. Canada's Governor General, MichaŽlle Jean, inspected the ships from the review's flagship, HMCS Algonquin, as it passed close aboard Ronald Reagan. In a time-honored naval custom, the Ronald Reagan saluted while manning the rails.
"It's an honor. I'm full of pride," said Machinist's Mate Fireman Amanda Posey, who entered the Navy less than a year ago. "I'm proud to be able to serve my country. I've loved it so far."
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